Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Heart Wine Parties and Potlucks

This month's theme for our wine group's tasting and potluck was Germany.  As you can guess, a lot of bottles of Riesling showed up at the party.  But other interesting wines like Lemberger and Müller-Thurgau made an appearance as well.  Once again, I really enjoyed drinking the wine, but I was more interested in the people and the food.  

Especially the food.  I decided to make soft pretzels and serve them with 3 types of mustard.  Now I know in Germany they actually prefer butter on their pretzels to mustard, but I like mustard. 
I'd never made pretzels before, but I make bread and pizza frequently so I figured it wouldn't be too hard.  And it wasn't.  The dough was much like a white bread dough but you cut it into little pieces and make the classic pretzel shape and boil it before you bake it.  I looked at a lot of different recipes but ended up using the one from Smitten Kitchen.  The only thing I changed was to double the yeast. 

These are really satisfying to make and fun for a group activity.  Below the ones on the right side have been boiled and you can see how they puff up after just a couple of minutes in the water. 

They are really quite cute!  The boiling water has 6 Tablespoons of baking soda in it to give it them the distinctive chewy crust.  In industrial bakeries, lye is used in the boiling water.  But lye is a harsh chemical used to clean drains and straighten hair and most home bakers just use baking soda instead.

Since I was making mini pretzels and they require a little more work, I recruited my husband to help me.  While I was boiling the pretzels, he was coating the already boiled ones with egg wash and coarse sea salt. 

Pretzels are best eaten on the day they are made and 31 of my 32 pretzels were eaten at the party.  (OK, I ate one at the house before we left for the party.)  I ate the last one this morning.  It was still good, but definitely starting to get soggy.  So make sure you have hungry mouths to feed before you start making these or make a half batch! 
Next month we are hosting the wine group at our house and doing something a little different by making giant batches of Sangria and requesting that everyone make Mexican food.  YUM!


  1. that was really interesting to see how pretzels are made, thanks (not sure if I'd like the lye ones)

  2. It's so easy! (And fun) To make it faster, make standard size pretzels. Yeah, I think these tasted great without the lye!

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